The Premise of Your Story

Are you struggling to figure out the foundation of your story? The Writer's Digest team has some simple explanations for discovering your premise.
Author:
Publish date:

"Premise" comes from two Latin words, meaning to put before. The premise is the foundation of your story-that single core statement, says James N. Frey, "of what happens to the characters as a result of the actions of a story."

(Premise Vs. Story: One Big Mistake Writers Make)

For instance, the premise of The Three Little Pigs is "Foolishness leads to death, and wisdom leads to happiness." (It's not three little pigs get scared by a wolf and make bad building decisions.) Every story has one premise. Only one. This premise is the underlying idea of your story-the foundation that supports your entire plot.

If you can establish what your premise is at the beginning of your project, you will have an easier time writing your story. That's because the fundamental concept you create in advance will drive the actions of your characters.

The Premise of Your Story

Once you establish your premise, you then set out to create a plot that proves it. The discipline of expressing your driving idea will prevent you from wandering too far from your original concept and keep your plot on a steady path from the beginning through the middle to the end. It will also help you craft a story that works.

A story premise can usually be stated in one sentence, and—because of the universal truths premises tend to express—a premise statement is often a familiar expression or cliché. "Honesty is the best policy," "be careful what you wish for," "what goes around, comes around," even "love means never having to say you're sorry" are all valid premise statements. Think about the story ideas you're working on and try to craft a premise statement for each of them.

Getting Started in Writing

When you take this online writing workshop, you'll discover your voice, learn the basics of grammar and examine the different types of writing. No matter what type of writing you're planning on crafting—nonfiction or fiction—you'll need guidance along the way.

Click to continue.

Shugri Said Salh: On Writing the Coming-Of-Age Story

Shugri Said Salh: On Writing the Coming-Of-Age Story

Debut author Shugri Said Salh discusses how wanting to know her mother lead her to writing her coming-of-age novel, The Last Nomad.

100 Ways to Buff Your Book

100 Ways to Buff Your Book

Does your manuscript need a little more definition, but you’re not sure where to begin? Try these 100 tips to give your words more power.

Kaia Alderson: On Internal Roadblocks and Not Giving Up

Kaia Alderson: On Internal Roadblocks and Not Giving Up

Kaia Alderson discusses how she never gave up on her story, how she worked through internal doubts, and how research lead her out of romance and into historical fiction.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Seven New Courses, Writing Prompts, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce seven new courses, our Editorial Calendar, and more!

Crystal Wilkinson: On The Vulnerability of Memoir Writing

Crystal Wilkinson: On The Vulnerability of Memoir Writing

Kentucky’s Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson discusses how each project has its own process and the difference between writing fiction and her new memoir, Perfect Black.

From Script

Approaching Comedy from a Personal Perspective and Tapping into Your Unique Writer’s Voice (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, interviews with masters of comedy, screenwriter Tim Long ('The Simpsons') and writer-director Dan Mazer (Borat Subsequent Movie) about their collaboration on their film 'The Exchange', and filmmaker Trent O’Donnell on his new film 'Ride the Eagle' co-written with actor Jake Johnson ('New Girl'). Plus, tips on how to tap into your unique voice and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Accepting Feedback on Your Writing

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Accepting Feedback on Your Writing

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not accepting feedback on your writing.

Writer's Digest Best Creativity Websites 2021

Writer's Digest Best Creativity Websites 2021

Here are the top creativity websites as identified in the 23rd Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2021 issue of Writer's Digest.

Poetic Forms

Englyn Proest Dalgron: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the englyn proest dalgron, a Welsh quatrain form.